I haven’t posted anything in a few days because I was down in Florida for my second meeting as a member of the NAGPRA Review committee. I have presented 8 times before the committee but being part of the committee is a much different experience. I was very nervous this spring at my first meeting as a member but this meeting was much more relaxed and comfortable for me. But the emotions at this meeting were very high. It was very difficult to sit and listen to testimony from tribes on issues that are clearly very dear to them. It’s hard to not get involved emotionally, watching elders and adults cry about their ancestors and sacred ways of life. I found it very difficult for me because I do the same work these other tribes do, and I can totally relate to their struggles. But, at the same time I have to keep myself in a state of mind to make good decisions, to read the material sent to me, listen to the testimony with an open mind and try to figure out how does the law apply. Naturally I am all for repatriation, but I know it has to be done within the frame work of NAGPRA. For better or for worse, this is what we have to work with. It’s so encouraging to see so many museums, federal agencies and tribes work together at these meetings to accomplish the return of remains. I am learning as much as I can from other, more experienced members on the committee, in order to be able to help other tribes down the road.
Before the actual Review Committee meeting, I arrived a day early to work with a smaller committee on NAGPRA at 20yrs . This is something I am excited about, along with the rest of the others working on the project. The NAGPRA at 20 conference will be for 2 days prior to the Review Committee next November in Washington D.C. I have to block out an entire week next year for these events, it’s going to be full blown NAGPRA for Eric during that time. It’s an honor to be asked to participate in both committees and be part of something that, I feel, helps communities on a multiple of levels.